County board gets updates on levee work, county fair

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The Monroe County Board of Commissioners were updated Tuesday on work to be done on the three-county levee system that is being restored under the Southwest Illinois Flood Prevention District Council.

Projects detailed are in the Wood River area.  Contracts approved by the Flood Prevention Council must in turn be approved by member counties, of which Monroe is one.

Both are for underseepage cutoff walls and related items.  One is being awarded to Kamadulski Excavating of Granite City in the amount of $3,076,208.70.  The other will go to Kiewit Infrastructure Corporation of Omaha, Neb., for $10,613,400.

Monroe County Board Chairman Delbert Wittenauer noted that work to restore and improve the levees is moving ahead under budget.  It is hoped that the work will result in the levees being certified as providing protection against a 100-year flood event, which would end FEMA threats to raise flood insurance rates on occupants and businesses in protected lowland areas of Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.

The commission also approved the Flood Prevention District’s budget for the coming year.

Don Schrader, Monroe County Fair Association President, delivered a detailed summary of the 2014 fair that recently ended. His report included a review of the history of the fair and results of the latest season.

Schrader said 124,000 people attended this year’s week-long event – the second highest total. He said he thought they would eclipse the record of 129,000, but combined heat, humidity and bad weather predictions cut attendance on the last Saturday night.

Schrader ticked off financial results and noted that 40,000 cans of beer were sold – less than 1,000 under the record for those sales.

He went on to credit a number of factors that have sustained the Monroe County Fair while neighboring fairs have or soon are predicted to succumb to attendance and receipts problems.

He credited heavy participation by local businesses, farm interests and the community as a whole for the fair’s success.  He especially cited the extremely active 4-H participation, noting that young people are indeed the fair’s future.

Schrader also told how the Fair Board constantly seeks ways to keep the money in the county.  As an example, a few years ago a commercial firm from St. Louis managed parking.  But now, seven area groups are employed, and their volunteers man the gates, direct parking and operate the beer concession.

“Instead of writing a check to a firm from across the river, the money goes to the area groups for their use,” he said.

Wittenauer said heavy local support and volunteer efforts make the fair here unique.

“The county fair, in many ways, defines Monroe County,” he said.

The commissioners approved resolutions appointing the following individuals: Henry Marquardt of Waterloo to the Monroe County Noxious Weed Committee; Robert Kipping to the Fountain Water District Board; Matthew Mueller of Columbia to Columbia Drainage and Levee District #3; Gregory Swope of Fults to the Community Mental Health 708 Funding Board.

Other actions by the commissioners included approving courtyard/bandstand use applications by the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce for its May (2015) Market and Music Festival; and the Chamber for its annual lamppost decorating contest for Christmas.

Raffle license applications were also approved for the Hecker Sportsman Club; the Holy Name Men’s Society, Hecker; and Maeystown Sportsmen’s Club.  The commissioners have decided to discontinue fees for raffle licenses for non-profit groups.  The groups applying for raffle licenses will have to provide evidence of their non-profit status with the IRS, to receive this treatment.

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